Today is the 47th birthday of Luc De Raedemaeker, who’s the Tasting Director for the Brussels Beer Challenge, the Dutch Beer Challenge and also the owner of BIERinhuis. I first met Luc in D.C. when Stephen Beaumont introduced us during CBC, and then we judged together in Japan a few years ago, and I’ve also been privileged to judge at the BBC the last few years. We generally run into one another several times a year, both in the states and in Belgium, and he’s always fun to share a beer or three with. Earlier this summer, his family stayed with us for a week while they were on vacation in the states, and had a grand time. Join me in wishing Luc a very happy birthday.
Today is the birthday of Alexander Rodenbach (September 28, 1786-August 17, 1869). He was a co-founder of Brouwerij Rodenbach, along with his brothers. His younger brother Pedro Rodenbach was a military officer and fought in the Battle of Waterloo. When he left the army in 1818, he married a brewer’s daughter, Regina Wauters, who was from Mechelen in Belgium. After Pedro’s father died, he and his brothers, Alexander, Ferdinand and Constantijn, bought a brewery in Roeselare. When their agreed-upon partnership ended after fifteen years, Pedro and Regina bought them out. It was originally called Brasserie et Malterie Saint-Georges. Afterward, Alexander opposed King Willem I and became a member of the National Congress, a position he held for 38 years, and for 25 years was also the mayor of Rumbeke, in Western Belgium. He also went blind as a youngster, when he was eleven, and was an advocate for helping the blind throughout his life.
This is a translation of his French Wikipedia page:
Alexander descends from a family of medieval German knights, the Van Rodenbachs. His father Jean had four sons: Ferdinand (1773-1841), Alexander (1786-1869), Constantin-Francois (? -1846) and Pierre (? -1848). Alexandre was born in Roeselare in 1786. With blindness at the age of 11, he will develop his other senses. He became the pupil of Valentin Haüy, then propagated the system of writing and teaching invented by Haüy.
In 1820, he bought a small brewery in his hometown. This brewery takes the name of Rodenbach and will last until its acquisition in 1998 by Palm Breweries. A beer tribute to the brewery is called Alexander Rodenbach in honor of the founder.
He began his political commitment around 1826 in the Catholic opposition movement against King William, notably by petitions. He earned the nickname “the blind man of Roeselare”. With his brothers Pierre and Constantin, they helped to create the “Catholic movement of the Netherlands”.
In parallel, Alexandre continues his actions with the blind by becoming involved with teaching methods and Catholic schools.
In 1830 Alexander and his brother Constantine entered politics in the Catholic and congressional movement of the Chamber of Deputies. Alexander was re-elected until May 1866.
His brothers also make less careers in politics. Ferdinand was commissioner of the arrondissement of Ypres from 1831 to 1841 (date of his death); Constantine is deputy with Alexander and then becomes ambassador to Athens; Pierre made a career in the army from 1826, when he created a corps of volunteers, up to the rank of captain.
Among his actions as a politician, he participated in the founding of the Institute of Blind and Deaf-mutes in Brussels, he manages the typhus and famine crisis of 1846-1847, he is a member of the commission Agriculture Superior of Belgium.
He died in Rumbeke in 1869. He was the burgomaster of Rumbeke from 1844 until his death in 1869.
And this is the history currently on the brewery website:
Entrepreneur, statesman, author, people’s representative, burgomaster. Unmarried. Went blind in his youth. Ran the brewery from 1821. Wrote scathing petitions against the policy of William I and in favour of freedom of speech and the press. Was instrumental in the Revolution in Roeselare in 1830 and supported his brothers Constantijn and Pedro in Brussels. Elected as a member of the Constitutional congress. As a parliamentarian, campaigned for the economic development of West Flanders, including railway and canal construction in Roeselare. Enjoyed a reputation in Europe for his books on teaching the blind and the deaf-and-dumb. Was multilingual, wrote poems and books, played the piano, was an art lover and a pragmatic revolutionary.
This biography is from the “National Biography of Belgium, XIX,” published in 1907:
RODENBACH (Alexander), politician, publicist and philanthropist, born in Roeselare, of a family originally from the Grand Duchy of Hesse, September 28, 1786, died at Rumbeke on August 17, 1869.
He was the second son of Jean Rodenbach and the brother of Ferdinand, Constantin Francis and Peter.
Alexander lost sight at the age of eleven, and it was in vain that his father, a notable merchant of Roeselare, submitted him to four operations by the best oculists of the time, including the celebrated Dubois, the surgeon of Napoleon. He was raised in Paris at the Museum of the Blind, founded and directed by Valentin Haüy. Endowed with energy and tenacity in every way, Rodenbach learned to be initiated into those arts which his unhappiness seemed to forbid him: dancing, riding and swimming. He applied himself particularly to developing the acuity of his senses, and Haüy soon counted him among his best pupils. So when King Louis of Holland asked the illustrious protector of the blind in 1807, one of his disciples to propagate his method to the school at Amsterdam, Haüy sent him Rodenbach, so much the better in this task that his knowledge of Dutch made it considerably easier for him to teach. About 1810 he returned to Roeselare, where he devoted himself to the industry and commerce of his parents. In 1828 he published his Letter on the Blind, following that of Diderot, and the following year his “Glance of a blind man on the deaf and dumb”; he later resumed this last subject in “The blind and the deaf-mute” (1853) which had two years after a second edition. a blind man on deaf-mutes “; he later resumed this last subject in “The blind and the deaf-mute” (1853) which had two years after a second edition. a blind man on deaf-mutes “; he later resumed this last subject in “The blind and the deaf-mute” (1853) which had two years after a second edition.
In 1829 Rodenbach proved, against Dewez and Barante, that it was at West Roosebeke , at the foot of the Keyaertsberg , that Philippe Van Artevelde was beaten and killed. Then he published his “Record on phonography or musical telegraphic language,” and some time after his “Historical and Geographical Notices on the City of Roeselare”.
Towards 1826, lthe Catholic opposition had redoubled its attacks against the government of King William, particularly on the laws of education. From the beginning, Alexander and Constantine Rodenbach actively collaborated with the “Catholic of the Netherlands” and contributed to the petitioning movement. “The Blind of Roeselare,” it was the name by which Alexander was designated, made this city a center of petitioning. At the first sound of the revolution, while his brother Pierre was rushing to Brussels to organize a body of volunteers, Alexander kept up the agitation inWest-Flanders. During and on the September days he went with Ferdinand to Lille, where, in concert with Bartholomew Dumortier, he summoned an assembly of the banished (September 27, 1830). While Pierre Rodenbach brought Louis de Potter back to Brussels, Alexander returned to Bruges, where he organized the revolution with Adolphe Bartels. He caused the Dutch garrison to be disbanded by his inflamed proclamation addressed to the non-commissioned officers of the army, and carried to the barracks by canvassers.
On the 4th of November, the inhabitants of Roulers sent him to sit at the National Congress, with Constantine his brother. In the following elections, he was elected deputy and bedroom until May 1866.
At the Congress, Alexander strongly supported the project of expulsion of the Nassau presented by his brother. Both voted for the Duke of Leuchtenberg, and then supported the regent’s hesitant policy. In 1831, while Constantine gave his voice to Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, Alexander refused to vote for this prince “convinced,” said he, “that he has too much honor to accept the crown under the humiliating conditions of the Holy Alliance He. More tenacious than his brother, who approved the eighteen articles, he signed the protest of 29 June 1831 and voted against the violation of the integrity of the territory. We see that Rodenbach displayed great parliamentary activity.
Later, he contributed powerfully to the erection of an Institute of the blind and deaf-mutes in Brussels, where he had his improvements adopted in the system of Haüy. As a protector of the blind and deaf-mutes, he introduced in the discussion of the communal law an amendment which obliges the communal councils to pay annually to the budget of their expenses maintenance and instruction costs for the blind and the deaf-mute indigents.
After the reorganization of the state universities at Liege and Ghent (September 27, 1835), it was Alexander Rodenbach who negotiated the translation of the Catholic university, founded at Mechelen in 1834, at Louvain (December 1, 1835). On December 27, 1841, he lost his brother Ferdinand (b. 3 May 1773), commissioner for ten years in the arrondissement of Ypres; in 1846, Constantine, ambassador at Athens; in 1848, Pierre, retired captain. These bereavements did not destroy his energy. As burgomaster of Rumbeke, he rendered immense services to the whole population of the district during the disastrous years from 1846 to 1847, when famine and typhus decimated Flanders. At bedroom, Alexander supported the abolition of the stamp of the newspapers and demanded the reduction of their port to a penny and that of the letters to ten centimes. At that time he was appointed member of the superior agricultural commission of the kingdom.
In October 1855, The Imperial Institute of the Young Blind in Paris organized a great festival in his honor, and he delivered a discourse full of encouragement to his young companions in misfortune. On August 10, 1861, he represented Belgium at the inauguration of the statue of Haüy, in Paris.
In 1858, a painful incident, which his author might have avoided, came to quarrel with Rodenbach, with one of his old friends, like himself a zealous philanthropist. J. Cappron, director of the Institute of the Deaf and Dumb in Antwerp, had composed a Flemish work, based chiefly on the work of M. de Gérando, “Memoirs on the instruction of the deaf mutes” (Paris, 1827) and had dedicated it to Rodenbach. Abbe C. Carton of Bruges thought he saw a plagiarism, and accused the author of literary insincerity in a strange letter, to which the blind man of Roeselius replied on March 30, 1858. Carton replied bitterly, insinuating that Rodenbach was unaware of these issues. Cappronintervened in the debate and proved that Carton, in his “Crowned Memory of the Academy of Belgium,” had himself borrowed much from de Gerando. The quarrel remained there.
It was also around this time that Rodenbach had a curious interview in Lille with the famous deaf-mute Jean Massieu , director of an institution for the blind in Lille.
Early the great philanthropist, who enjoyed the general esteem of his fellow-citizens, also excited the admiration of the stranger. His tenacity, his energy in misfortune, his vast intelligence had created a European fame, and visitors from all quarters came to solicit an interview with him in his modest village of Rumbeke. In 1835 he had obtained the cross and was appointed, in 1854, an officer of the order of Leopold. In the same year he received the decorations of St. Michael of Bavaria, Danebrog, Wasa, Christ of Portugal and the Rose from Brazil. The following year, Spain appointed him commander of the Order of Charles III., And the Pope created him Knight of St. Gregory the Great. In 1856 he was appointed knight of the Medjidie of Turkey, of Saint-Maurice of Sardinia, of Saint-Georges of Parma, of the Savior of Greece, of Francis I of the Two Sicilies; Napoleon III granted him the cross ofthe Legion of honor.
Alexandre Rodenbach, by his high qualities, was one of the most beautiful Belgium independent. His life will tell all the disinherited of nature what the will can do, even against the most unfortunate of infirmities. His name, inseparable from those of Haüy and Braille, will be honored like that of a benefactor of humanity.
His posthumous work, “Aide-Mémoire de l’aveugle de Roulers”, was published at Merchtem in 1870 by his nephew, Felix Rodenbach, then receiver of the recording at Ixelles (born in Roulers in 1827, living in Bruges), who wrote several books on recording rights.
The brewery began brewing a beer named for Alexander in 1986, and have subsequently brought it back from time to time:
RODENBACH Alexander was brewed for the first time in 1986 on the occasion of Alexander Rodenbach’s 200th birthday and is now back by popular demand to the delight of beer lovers here and abroad. Its aftertaste is reminiscent of a Burgundy wine and its freshness makes this beer the perfect aperitif or accompaniment to cheeses or dessert.
Today is the birthday of Marc Lemay, who runs Brasserie Dubuisson Frères in Pipaix, Belgium. I first met Marc at a beer dinner in Chicago several years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since. Best of all, after another dinner at the Belgium Brewers Guild house in the Grand Place a few years ago — where inexplicably no frites were served, a unpardonable sin, especially in Belgium — and so afterwards, Marc took me too his favorite late night frites spot in Brussels (which I’ve been back to several times since). Marc’s a terrific person (plus I love his beer). Join me in wishing Marc a very happy birthday.
Marc in 2013 showing off a bottle of Cuvee des Trolls.
Pouring us some beer during a lunch at the Dubuisson brewery.
Today is the 64th birthday of Frank Boon, from the Belgian lambic brewery Brouwerij Boon. In 1978, Boon acquired the small “R. De Vits” Lambiek brewery that dated back to 1680, relocating the brewery to downtown Lembeek in 1986. His beers are imported to the U.S. by Latis Imports. Like most lambic fans, I’ve enjoyed his beers for many years, and was fortunate enough to meet Frank a few years ago during Philly Beer Week, and happily spent some time talking with him at the World Beer Cup judging earlier this year. Join me in wishing Frank a very happy birthday.
Today is the 43rd birthday of Johan Van Dyck, who founded Seef Beer in Antwerp, based on an old style that he worked hard to resurrect after it had died out, despite having been the most popular local beer for many years before two world wars. I first met Johan in San Francisco when he was here with his importer to launch the brand and I wrote about the beer for my newspaper column. The company is now called Antwerpse Brouwcompagnie. It was originally a contract brew, but Johan has opened a production facility in the Noorderpershuis, which was originally a power plant. I’ve since run into him a few times in Belgium, and I’m very glad to see his beer succeed. Join me in wishing Johan a very happy birthday.
Today is Don Feinberg’s 63rd birthday, along with his wife Wendy Littlefield, ran the Belgian export company Vanberg & DeWulf. Their portfolio included such great beer lines as Dupont, Castelain and Dubuisson (Bush). They were also the original founders of Brewery Ommegang. Several years ago they celebrated their 30th anniversary of being involved in the beer industry and bringing great beer to America. Plus, they’re great fun to hang out and drink with. Unfortunately, a few years ago they sold Vanberg & DeWulf, and are taking some time off, before deciding on their next project. It’s been a while now, but hopefully, we’ll learn something soon. Join me in wishing Don a very happy birthday.
Wendy Littlefield, Don and Greg Engert at a Vanberg & DeWulf tasting in Washington, D.C. (photo by Chuck Cook)
While records going back this far in time are notoriously unreliable, some sources put the birthday of St. Arnulf of Metz at August 13, 583 C.E., such as Find-a-Grave, among others. He’s also known as Anou, Arnould, Arnold of Metz, and his feast day is July 18. Although even the year is not settled, and some sources give it as 580 or 582 C.E., so the actual likelihood that any of this is correct is pretty low.
“Saint Arnulf of Metz (c. 582 – 640) was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont. In French he is also known as Arnoul or Arnoulf. In English he is also known as Arnold.” Metz is located in northeastern France.
Also, Arnulf is one of at least three patron saints of brewers with similar names, although he is the oldest, and essentially first one. That’s one of the reasons I chose his feast day, July 18, for the holiday I created in 2008, International Brewers Day.
The Saint Arnold most people are familiar with is Arnold of Soissons, and he’s from much later, almost 500 years, and is thought to have been born around 1040 C.E. Less is known about the third, St. Arnou of Oudenaarde (or Arnouldus), and he’s also a patron saint of beer and specifically Belgian brewers, because Oudenaarde is in Flanders. His story takes place in the 11th century.
Here’s his bio from Find-a-Grave:
Saint Arnulf of Metz (c 582 — 640) was a Frankish bishop of Metz and advisor to the Merovingian court of Austrasia, who retired to the Abbey of Remiremont.
Saint Arnulf of Metz was born of an important Frankish family at an uncertain date around 582. In his younger years he was called to the Merovingian court to serve king Theudebert II (595-612) of Austrasia and as dux at the Schelde. Later he became bishop of Metz. During his life he was attracted to religious life and he retired as a monk. After his death he was canonized as a saint. In the French language he is also known as Arnoul or Arnoulf. Arnulf was married ca 596 to a woman who later sources give the name of Dode or Doda, (whose great grandmother was Saint Dode of Reims), and had children. Chlodulf of Metz was his oldest son, but more important is his second son Ansegisen, who married Saint Begga daughter of Pepin I of Landen.
Arnulf was canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. In iconography, he is portrayed with a rake in his hand.
He was the third great grandfather of Charlemagne.
It was July 642 and very hot when the parishioners of Metz went to Remiremont to recover the remains of their former bishop. They had little to drink and the terrain was inhospitable. At the point when the exhausted procession was about to leave Champigneulles, one of the parishioners, Duc Notto, prayed “By his powerful intercession the Blessed Arnold will bring us what we lack.” Immediately the small remnant of beer at the bottom of a pot multiplied in such amounts that the pilgrims’ thirst was quenched and they had enough to enjoy the next evening when they arrived in Metz.
And here’s another account from Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites:
During an outbreak of the plague a monk named Arnold, who had established a monastery in Oudenburg, persuaded people to drink beer in place of water and when they did, the plague disappeared.
Arnold spent his holy life warning people about the dangers of drinking water. Beer was safe, and “from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” he would say.
The small country of Belgium calls itself the ‘Beer Paradise’ with over 300 different styles of beer to choose from. Belgium boasts of centuries old tradition in the art of brewing. In the early Middle Ages monasteries were numerous in that part of Europe, being the centers of culture, pilgrimage and brewing. Belgium still has a lot of monasteries and five of these are Trappist, a strict offshoot of the Cistercian order, which still brews beer inside the monastery.
During one outbreak of the plague St. Arnold, who had established a monastery in Oudenburg, convinced people to drink beer instead of the water and the plague disappeared as a result. Saint Arnold (also known as St. Arnoldus), is recognized by the Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of Brewers.
St. Arnold was born to a prominent Austrian family in 580 in the Chateau of Lay-Saint-Christophe in the old French diocese of Toul, north of Nancy. He married Doda with whom he had many sons, two of whom were to become famous: Clodulphe, later called Saint Cloud, and Ansegis who married Begga, daughter of Pépin de Landen. Ansegis and Begga are the great-great-grandparents of Charlemagne, and as such, St. Arnold is the oldest known ancestor of the Carolingian dynasty.
St. Arnold was acclaimed bishop of Metz, France, in 612 and spent his holy life warning people about the dangers of drinking water. Beer was safe, and “from man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world,” he would say. The people revered St. Arnold. In 627, St. Arnold retired to a monastery near Remiremont, France, where he died on August 16, 640.
In 641, the citizens of Metz requested that Saint Arnold’s body be exhumed and ceremoniously carried to Metz for reburial in their Church of the Holy Apostles. During this voyage a miracle happened in the town of Champignuelles. The tired porters and followers stopped for a rest and walked into a tavern for a drink of their favorite beverage. Regretfully, there was only one mug of beer to be shared, but that mug never ran dry and all of the thirsty pilgrims were satisfied.
A modern portrait of St. Arnulf by American artist Donna Haupt.
Today is the 43rd birthday of Hildegard Van Ostaden, brewmaster at Urthel, one of only a handful of female brewers working in Belgium. Inspired by a trip to Alaska’s barleywine festival, she also brewed the first American-style Imperial IPA in Belgium. Her beers are all great, and I love the illustrations on the labels that her husband Bas does. Join me in wishing Hildegard a very happy birthday.
Hildegard with Brian Hunt of Moonlight Brewing at the Beer Chef’s Urthel dinner.
So this post will be chiefly for the literary, and especially poetry lovers, among you, a small subset of beer lovers who also enjoy art. Visual poetry is “a development of concrete poetry but with the characteristics of intermedia in which non-representational language and visual elements predominate. In other words, it was experimental or avant-garde poetry in which the arrangement of the text also was a part of the poem’s meaning, which was communicated both visually and through the text itself.
Two Mexican poets in the 1920s, José D. Frias and José María González de Mendoza were both expatriates living in France and became friends, later exchanging humorous letters between themselves and their literary friends. Today is Mendoza’s birthday, which is what reminded me of this.
In 1923, the pair wrote a letter from Paris to fellow poet Francisco Orozco Muñoz that included four visual poems. They were based on the work of French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, who a few years before wrote a book of visual poetry entitled Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War 1913-1916. They also were influenced by Japanese Haiku, which had become popular at the time in their literary circles, as opposed to Apollinaire’s more cubist or l’esprit nouveau poetry.
Three of the visual poems were written by Frias and translated visually by Mendoza. But the fourth poem was done entirely by Mendoza, and it’s the one below. All four poems contain witty references to the fact that Muñoz was living in Brussels.
The text is in the shape of a mug of beer, sitting on a table, and reads, according to several books on visual poetry, “Let’s Have a Beer” followed by “The Sun Has Already Set in Flanders.”
Today is the 40th birthday of Jean Moeder, founder of the Moeder Lambic bar in Brussels, Belgium. I first met Jean at his bar a few years back and have run into him since a couple of times. He’s very passionate about beer, and his place (both of them now) are amazing. Join me wishing Jean a very happy birthday.
[Note: all photos purloined from Facebook.]